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Blu-ray outsells HD-DVD in U.S. for first 9 months


Blu-ray DVD titles outsold rival HD-DVD titles by almost 2-to-1 in the first nine months of the year, but analysts expect additional HD-DVD support and new hit releases to "transform" the high-definition DVD battle score in the fourth quarter.

Total U.S. sales of Blu-ray discs, using a Sony Corp-backed technology, totaled 2.6 million units from January 1 through Sept 30, versus 1.4 million HD-DVD discs sold.

HD-DVD was developed by Toshiba Corp. It is backed by Microsoft Corp as well as film studios like Time Warner Inc's TWX.N Warner Bros.

The division in Hollywood grew deeper in August when Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc signed exclusivity deals to distribute their next-generation discs on HD-DVD format for the next 18 months.

Adams predicts that for 2007 overall, consumers will spend $186 million purchasing Blu-ray discs, versus $91 million for HD-DVD.

Hollywood and electronics manufacturers had hoped new high-definition DVDs, with better picture quality and more capacity would revive the slowing $24 billion home DVD market.

But like the Betamax-VHS battle in the 1980s, the DVD standards war has slowed adoption and created customer confusion. It has also raised the likelihood it will be years before next-generation players become standard equipment.

Since both formats launched in the spring of 2006, an estimated 4.98 million high-definition discs have been sold, including 3.01 million in Blu-ray and 1.97 million in HD-DVD through the end of September, according to Home Media.

I can't help shake the feeling that the HD disc wars aren't amounting to much. Part of it is the incompatible formats, part of it is simple pricing: These things are expensive, though prices are finally coming down. Also, digital delivery will likely play a role in making this generation of disc technology the last, and one with a much shorter lifetime than DVD. It doesn't help, either, that DVD looks great on HDTV displays, especially with upconvert hardware.

No biggie, but I had expected HD DVD to perform better than Blu-Ray by this point. Curious.

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